Monday, January 10, 2011
Pasco Sweet Potato "Stick"
Because I eat whole wheat bread and baked goods nearly everyday, turning to the Japanese bread section for anything is rare for me. I realize that most of the bread is relatively finely made with gobs of fat and sugar to make it soft as a cloud and to lend some very fine textural elements, but it just doesn't float my aging boat. However, I pondered these Pasco sweet potato sticks mainly because I'm sucker for all things sweet potato. Also, at only 65 calories per stick, they looked like very fine fodder for tea time.
I tried eating this three different ways. First, I had a bite as it came out of the package. The sense was decidedly "meh". It mainly tasted like fairly decent white bread with a hint of sweetness and a detectable margarine flavor. The sweet potato didn't come through much at all. Second, I wrapped it in foil and heated it a bit in the toaster oven such that it was warmed, but not too hot to handle. This made it slightly better as the texture of the bread was softer and seemed fresher and it seemed a tad sweeter. Finally, I heated it to a point where it was quite hot to handle using the same method and this is where it seemed to "wake up".
By getting it really hot (about as hot as you can manage without seriously burning your fingers), the sweet potato turned creamy and soft and the flavor seemed to open up. I could really taste the sweet potato as an element only when the bread was in this state. The only problem is that "near nuclear" hotness doesn't last long so they have to be savored rather rapidly if you want the maximum enjoyment.
I liked this, but I'm not a fan of super sweet pastries. This was quite subtle in its flavors and not very sweet. You really have to be as much a fan of plain, relatively decent quality white bread and sweet potato to want to eat something like this. In many ways, this type of "pastry" typifies a strong difference between Japanese and American tastes. There are plenty of these sorts of sticks or twists in Japan with mixtures of chocolate, "cream" (like custard), red beans, and sweet potato. They are all quite similar to this one in that they aren't incredibly sweet and have subtle flavors.
The big question which I find hard to answer is whether I'd buy this again. I probably would, but not soon and not often. I tend to favor whole grains and stronger flavors for breakfast, and I try to avoid products made with white flour because of the potential for a blood sugar spike and crash (which will make one very hungry after a short period of time). I could see buying this again when I was in the mood for a change of pace, but only perhaps once or twice a year.